A death certificate is a legal document that is issued by the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages in the UK. It records the date, time and place of death as well as any details about the deceased person’s next-of-kin.
Registering a death is necessary for numerous reasons, including claiming benefits and settling inheritance tax.
The process for registering a death depends on whether it occurred in hospital or at home. If you are responsible for arranging a funeral with a funeral director, they will usually assist you with the registration of death.
In the UK, death registration is the responsibility of the Registrar General for England and Wales. In Scotland, it’s the Registrar General for Scotland and in Northern Ireland, it’s the Chief Registrar of Births, Deaths & Marriages.
The process is generally similar to that of other countries – a doctor or coroner must confirm that the person has died and fill in an official form. There are also additional procedures if someone dies abroad or you live abroad but want to register the death in the UK.
In the event of a death, you should call your local Registrar’s office (the number will be on your electoral register). You may need to make this call yourself or ask someone else to do it on your behalf, but if possible try not to delay making contact because they’ll need as much information as possible when they arrive at your home.
The registrar will then come out to certify the death. They will ask for identification from you (such as a driving licence) and from anyone else present at the time of death who wants to sign their name on the certificate (such as a relative). They will also ask for some information about yourself (for example your address), so that they can complete all relevant forms accurately before sending them off
Funeral directors are also able to provide further information on this subject if needed.
You can register a death at any time after it happens. However, if you’re not sure when the person died, it’s best to register it as soon as possible after finding out about their death (this is called ‘delayed registration’).
If you’re not sure what to do, speak to your local council or find out more information from our guide on how to register a death in the UK.